In chapter II, verse 47, Krishna explains that while us humans have the privilege of using our free will to control our actions, we are not ultimately in control of our action’s results. Therefore, we cannot be attached to the results of our actions because those outcomes are within God’s jurisdiction, not our own.
To better integrate this knowledge into my own life, I will practice equanimity towards both accomplishments and failures. Knowing that equanimity in failure is hardest for me, I will view failure as a growth opportunity, not a moment to despair. I will view failure with less attachment, knowing it does not define me and choose to see failure as a chance to re-evaluate my dharma (did I do my best, as is my duty to this world?) and grow.
Either way, I will look at failure as an opportunity to learn how I can hone my dharma. To understand if Tamas or Rajas is playing a part in my failure. And to finally accept that this failure is part of a greater trajectory for me. Fully accepting the reality of failure, that the results of my good actions are ultimately not in my control, will allow me to take more risks and grow into my authentic self because of it. It will allow me to go confidently in the direction of my true Self and share the unique gifts I have to offer to the world, even if it means I “fail” along the way. If I uphold my dharma to the best of my abilities, the rest is up to Ishwara’s will, so I might as well let it go.
This is also true for accomplishments. I will be careful not to dwell in the sensual afterglow of positive feedback or accolades for work well done. I will not act in hopes of receiving “likes” or approval from others.
To do this, I need be detached from the likes and approval in the first place. This practice feels subtler, but I know the attachment to positive feedback begets the pain of failure. In order to truly feel equanimous about one’s actions and the resulting outcomes, one must realize that both failures and accomplishments are not owed to oneself, but to many other factors surrounding success or downfall.
I am a conduit to the higher wisdom. My ego may like to think that the smaller me is in charge, separate from everyone else and thus better than everyone else, but this is simply untrue. Everything I am able to accomplish is because of a vast web of supporters and synchronous events that occurred along the way.
Non-attachment to the result of something good, is to acknowledge that this is simply an exchange with the larger universe, the Divine coming through me.
In verse 50, Krishna states “yoga is skill in action.” To cultivate unity of my intelligence and the Divine, I must act, I cannot retreat. But I must act with discernment and intention, not from the whims of my desires or senses.
My discreet practice to cultivate dharmic action and non-attachment to results will be:
Check-in with my true self before acting for a desired result.
Inquire about what the desired result is and if it is self-serving or all-serving.
If it is self-serving, in pursuit solely of kama or artha, I will adjust or stop the action.
Once my action is coming from a place of sattva, I will set it free into the world and let go of the outcome.
I will breathe deeply to control my naturally rajasic mind and trust that whatever comes back to me (good or bad) is a true gift of reciprocity.
In the final verse, verse 53, Krishna describes a natural state of yoga as “intelligence… unshaken and stable in spirit (samadhi).” By continuously paying attention to my actions and ensuring they are deliberate and sattvic, I begin to purify the mind as much so that my intelligence becomes one with the Divine -- unshaken and stable. This is the reason our actions matter and why I commit to my practice.